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hTitle shot: 7 compete to reign over Coney Island



Published: Mon, July 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



hTitle shot: 7 competeto reign over Coney Island

NEW YORK -- "Queen of Coney Island" contestant Erin Bieber, 21, from Brooklyn, N.Y., is helped with her Statue of Liberty outfit by her sister Erica Bieber, 16, backstage before the competition. Seven contestants between 18 and 24 competed Sunday in three categories: formal gown, bathing suit and answer session. The winner was to receive a $2,500 prize and "Queen of Coney Island" title.

Official: Gunmen kill, behead Afghan soldiers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Suspected Taliban gunmen ambushed a border patrol in the desert near the frontier with Pakistan, killing and beheading 10 Afghan soldiers, a provincial governor said Sunday. Violence elsewhere left 15 rebels and soldiers dead.

The 25-member patrol was attacked Saturday in southern Helmand province by militants driving four four-wheel-drive pickups, said provincial Gov. Sher Mohammed Aghunzada.

The insurgents killed 10 soldiers, and 15 -- including three who were wounded -- fled the ambush, Aghunzada said.

"The Taliban cut the heads off all the soldiers who were killed," he said. Aghunzada said the dead soldiers' bodies had been recovered.

He said the assailants launched the assault after driving across the border from Pakistan and returned across the frontier. The border is unguarded in that remote area.

Twelve other Afghan soldiers were killed Sunday when a land mine blew up under their vehicle in Paktika province, also near the border with Pakistan, provincial deputy police chief Ghulam Nabi said.

At least 1 person diesas 2 freight trains collide

BENTONIA, Miss. -- Two freight trains collided and partially derailed early Sunday, killing at least one crew member and leaving rescue crews searching for three others presumed dead in the wreckage. A fire that followed the crash hampered the search efforts, Yazoo County coroner Ricky Shivers said.

The collision northeast of Bentonia in west-central Mississippi involved two Canadian National Railroad freight trains.

It wasn't immediately clear how the two trains ended up on a collision course. CN spokeswoman Karen Phillips said the cause of the crash was under investigation. It happened hours before rains from Hurricane Dennis reached the area.

In Israel, Cabinet OKsplan involving barrier

JERUSALEM -- Israel's Cabinet affirmed a plan Sunday to surround Jerusalem with a barrier, despite protests by Palestinians, who say the Israelis are unilaterally redrawing the disputed city's boundaries and shifting its demographic balance in favor of Jews.

The Israeli ministers acknowledged about 55,000 Palestinian residents in four neighborhoods will eventually be cut off from their city by the separation barrier, meant to stop Palestinian bombers, and promised to come up with a plan by Sept. 1 on how to alleviate some of the hardships.

Critics warned that despite the new provisions, tens of thousands of Palestinians, who have Jerusalem residency rights and pay municipal taxes, would probably face major delays in crossing through 11 gates in the barrier every day on their way to jobs and schools. Only half of the barrier has been built.

Palestinian officials rejected the Israeli Cabinet decision.

Zoo officials optimisticover new panda cub

WASHINGTON -- Giant panda Mei Xiang appeared to be nursing her day-old cub Sunday, a positive sign of survival for a tiny bear susceptible to malnutrition, bacterial infection and even the lumbering of its 250-pound mother.

The National Zoo's first panda cub in 16 years survived its initial 24 hours -- a benchmark for pandas born in captivity -- and continued to emit such a robust squeal that zoo officials were optimistic about the days ahead. "Everything seems to be going fine," zoo spokeswoman Peper Long said. "But we know that we have several more of those critical time periods to go."

Mei Xiang and her cub, which probably weighs 3 ounces to 5 ounces, have been under round-the-clock watch at the Panda House since she gave birth early Saturday.

The Web camera at the Panda House offers an online view of mother and cub via http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas.

Associated Press




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